The juvenile legal system in Jacksonville, Florida, handles the cases of minors 17 and under that have committed delinquent acts. “Delinquent acts” are acts otherwise defined as “criminal” but are “delinquent” because they’ve been performed by minors. 

In juvenile court, a minor can be charged with a status offense or a delinquency offense, which we’ll go into more detail further on in this page. If your minor loved one has been arrested and has been ordered to attend a hearing in juvenile court, contact the attorneys at Smith & Eulo. 

We understand that children make mistakes, and there’s no reason why their past mistakes should leave a permanent mark on their record. We’ll work with you to minimize any penalties your child’s act may incur.

What types of juvenile crimes are there?

Delinquent and status offenses are two types of charges a minor may be charged in. The difference between the two lies in the seriousness of the act, which can then determine the type of penalties a minor could face if convicted.

Delinquent Acts

Delinquent acts are criminal offenses that would have resulted in criminal charges if they were performed by an adult.

  • Stealing money, possessions, or property from someone else. If charged with this act, a minor would typically pay a fine and restitution
  • Knowingly possessing a controlled or illegal substance. Penalties for this action include drug counseling, house arrest, or even juvenile detention
  • Causing distress or fear in another person through threats, stalking, harassment, or other actions. A minor will be penalized for these crimes with counseling and house arrest

Status Offenses

Status offenses are acts that are only applicable to minors.

  • When a student misses 15 or more days of school in a 90 day period, a minor can be convicted of truancy. A student with these charges will have to attend counseling or alternative counseling, or complete community service
  • Violating Florida’s 11 PM to 5 AM curfew between Sunday and Thursday The first offense for this act is a written warning
  • Minors in possession of alcohol can be charged with a misdemeanor in Florida, and they may have to pay $500 and may have jail time

What will a juvenile face in court?

When a minor is caught performing a delinquent act, the involved law officers and court members may choose to pursue formal or informal penalties. This will depend on the act that was committed.

Informal Charges

When an officer catches a minor in the act, they may choose to let them off with a warning, or hold them until they can be released into their parent’s custody. These choices are informal steps that an officer has chosen based off of the minor’s act.

Formal Charges

If the officer chooses to arrest the minor, they can still be charged with informal penalties by the court. If the prosecutor doesn’t pursue any charges, the judge can choose to have the minor go to counselling, complete community service, or pay some sort of restitution/fines. In this case, the court order informal punishment wouldn’t be entered into the minor’s permanent record.

When the juvenile court’s prosecutor chooses to pursue charges against a minor, what follows constitutes formal charges. The juvenile will attend a hearing where they’re arraigned by a judge. It’s important to remember that while juvenile court is different from adult criminal court, a minor is still entitled to a fair and impartial judge, and an attorney to defend them. Depending on what act was committed, a judge may decide upon one of the following courses of action:

  • Counseling or probation if the juvenile has plead guilty or is not contesting the charges
  • The judge may choose a diversion program for the minor to complete, such as rehab, community service, counseling, or restitution
  • The judge may “sustain the petition” if the minor is ultimately found guilty

Experienced Juvenile Courts Attorneys

Smith & Eulo understand that kids make mistakes, and we believe that these mistakes shouldn’t follow them into adulthood. The experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorneys at Smith & Eulo understand the juvenile courts, guaranteeing  a strong defense and an empathetic lawyer who will help your child. Contact us today for a free case review with one of our team members.

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